One of the great joys of water gardening is the breathtaking view of colorful waterlilies bobbing on the surface of the pond above their large green lily pads. Once you know the secret to planting and growing healthy lilies, you’ll reap the reward of seeing bloom after spectacular bloom. Refer to our five easy tips below for growing gorgeous waterlilies that will convince your friends and neighbors you must have been born with a blue thumb!
1. Fertilizer is key to enjoying a prolific display of blooms throughout the summer and into fall. You can choose either an annual fertilizer that you apply once the season begins, or you can opt for fertilizer tabs that you push into the soil every few weeks or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Either way, waterlilies are voracious eaters and you must keep them fertilized to enjoy the best display of their beautiful blooms.
2. Six hours of direct sunlight is just as important to your waterlilies as being properly fed. Dappled sunlight isn’t sufficient for most waterlilies to pump out flower after flower. Sure, the lily pads might look great in the shade, but the parade of blooming color will prove disappointing. You can find a few shade-tolerant waterlilies that perform well with about four hours of sunlight, but your best bet is six hours or more.
3. Plant your waterlily in a large container specifically designed for lilies. Waterlilies have large, vigorous root systems, so a large container is necessary for optimal growth. A hardy waterlily should be potted in at least a 10″ wide pot, but larger is preferable – such as the Aquatic Lily Planter by Aquascape that measures 14” in diameter.
4. Use aquatic potting soil to plant your waterlily. Aquatic soil adequately meets the demands of aquatic plants and is a better choice than regular potting soil. Spread a one-inch layer of aquatic potting soil in the bottom of a large lily planter. If you’re using an annual fertilizer that you apply once only, spread it across the top of this thin layer of soil. Use the recommended amount of fertilizer shown on the packaging instructions. Add another thin layer of aquatic potting soil atop the fertilizer. Remove the lily from its original garden center pot and set it atop the soil. Fill in the sides of the lily planter with additional pond plant soil. If you’re using a plant tab-type fertilizer, you can add them now. Add river rocks or other small pebbles on top of the soil to keep the potting media from leaching out into the water.
5. Place your waterlily into the pond. Check the planting depth on the tag that came with your waterlily and place it at the proper depth level. This is typically the bottom of your pond if it’s around two feet deep. You can also place the waterlily on a plant shelf if your pond is fairly deep. Don’t forget to make sure that your lily will get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Aquascape Aquatic Lily Planters are conveniently equipped with strong handles to easily lower the pot into the pond.
With proper sun and fertilizer, your waterlilies will bloom prolifically throughout the season. If you used a plant tab-type fertilizer, be sure to add them on a regular basis to your waterlily, as recommended on the package instructions. If you used an annual type fertilize, you won’t need to add it again until the next pond season.
For more information about waterlilies and the vast array of options, visit the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society.